Print Edition: April 2, 2014
I recently took part in a social media trend that’s sweeping through Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat right now called the no-make up selfie challenge.
Originally, the challenge was meant to raise money for cancer research, but I recently read a statement by Kim Stephens, a cancer survivor and Brisbane Times reporter, that the trend is simply insulting.
“I fear this destructive campaign is only serving to deliver a giant slap in the (make-up free) face to every woman undergoing life-saving chemotherapy right now,” Stephens wrote.
While I would usually agree that social media trends often undermine a larger societal problem, the “giant slap in the face” selfies have actually succeeded in raising $13 million in just six days, according to Philly.com.
But Stephans raises an interesting point about social media trends when she calls the no-make- up selfie “self-indulgent crap.”
Take the recent drinking challenge Neknominate for instance. The news covered it extensively, and it even has its own Wikipedia page.
And yet there was no reason or good intention behind Neknominate. It’s a glorified drinking game where someone is challenged to down a pint of alcohol in one gulp, often in the most ridiculous way possible. The experience must be filmed and uploaded to the internet where the player must then challenge someone else.
That, in my opinion, is “self-indulgent crap.”
Another example of a social media challenge that started several years ago is the Cinnamon Challenge. Everyone’s heard of this one, due to the amount of players who ended up dead as a result. It seems general common sense goes out the window when it comes to online dares. What happens when extremely fine powder gets into your lungs? They collapse. That shouldn’t be a surprise.
Yet, even after multiple victim coverage and health warnings, people are still accepting the challenge to swallow a spoonful of ground cinnamon.
I suppose everyone has a reputation they want to uphold, and on social media that reputation is constantly changing and at risk. But for some odd reason, reputation is presented to outweigh personal safety.
Those who recognize the dangers and the stupidity of social media challenges like Neknominate and the Cinnamon Challenge are the ones who have to contend with ugly comments. They are suddenly labelled cowards, lame-asses, and pussies. The peer pressure is what kills them, not the alcohol or the cinnamon.
Medical advisor Sarah Jarvis is quoted by CNN saying, “If the thrill wasn’t there, your mates weren’t seeing you, I expect [the trend] would very rapidly fizzle out.”
The intention matters most in social media trends. The no-make- up selfie is not dangerous to its challengers, nor is it meant to offend or degrade the cause it was created to support. But hopefully more people think before jumping on every social media bandwagon. Weigh the repercussions before taking the risk, and decide for yourself if the cause is worthy or simply self-glorifying.